Alumnus and mentor collaborate to build pre-eminent center on financial markets and policy
More than a decade after providing seed capital to establish a financial markets and policy center at the McDonough School of Business, Michael G. (B’89) and Robin Psaros (Parents’21) are committing $11 million to build the newly renamed Psaros Center for Financial Markets and Policy into the preeminent destination for unbiased expertise at the intersection of finance and policy. This gift builds upon years of collaboration between Michael Psaros and his mentor Reena Aggarwal, Robert E. McDonough Professor of Finance and director of the center.
“My family is humbled and excited to invest in Georgetown, and in doing so, give back to a country that has provided us with so many opportunities,” Michael Psaros says.
When Aggarwal wanted to create the center after the 2008 financial crisis to foster objective, research-driven dialogue on critical issues facing the financial markets, Psaros made a $500,000 gift to support her vision. Now, at a pivotal moment for financial market regulation and policymaking, this transformative gift will allow the center to fulfill its ambition to be the undisputed leader in the field.
In addition to renaming the center, the gift expands opportunities for research and outreach executed by the expanded center’s leaders in partnership with students. The Psaros Center for Financial Markets and Policy will host world-class convenings, bringing together market participants, policymakers, and leading academics to provide solutions for emerging challenges in global finance. The center will also benefit from the experiences of the most accomplished industry and policy leaders, supported by the gift’s funding for Visiting Distinguished Fellows and a Fellows Excellence Fund.
“I cannot tell you how excited and grateful we are to announce the Psaros Center for Financial Markets and Policy,” Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia says. “This is an extraordinary moment for Georgetown, for our McDonough School of Business—but also for our nation—as we think about the kind of work, analysis, scholarship, and research that this new center will enable us to do.”
“My family is humbled and excited to invest in Georgetown, and in doing so, give back to a country that has provided us with so many opportunities.”
Bringing a 30-year relationship full circle
Aggarwal and Psaros first met as professor and student in the 1980s. Psaros says that the ways in which Aggarwal taught complex concepts, rigorous analysis, and logic had a profound and lasting impact that opened up the interconnectivity of politics and policy on finance and business to him.
“I am very grateful to my mentor, Dr. Reena Aggarwal—one of the great minds in finance globally—for providing me with encouragement and support for nearly 35 years, since I was one of her students,” Psaros says. “Dr. Aggarwal believed in me before I believed in myself.”
After Psaros graduated and made a distinguished career in finance as co-founder and managing partner of KPS Capital Partners, LP, a leading global private equity firm, he became involved in Georgetown leadership. He joined the Georgetown Board of Directors and serves as co-vice chair of the Board of Advisors of Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. In this setting, he and Aggarwal reconnected over their shared interests.
“Mike was always interested in finance and policy,” says Aggarwal. “That goes back to when he was a student, and it has continued ever since. He understands both sides: why financial markets are important, and how policy can play a significant role.”
When Aggarwal became interim dean and then deputy dean of Georgetown McDonough, she interacted with Psaros frequently through his work on the Board. She regularly invited Psaros to speak with her students about his firm’s constructive investing activities to drive transformational change of manufacturing companies.
Then, the financial crisis of 2008 hit, and the epicenter of financial policy decision-making moved from New York City to Washington, D.C. In the immediate aftermath, Aggarwal saw a need for leadership and expertise that Georgetown should meet.
“There was a real leadership void for the financial sector,” Aggarwal says. “Regulators were very busy trying to figure out what to do with this financial crisis and executives at financial firms were trying to lay low because they were getting the blame. It seemed to me that it was our responsibility at Georgetown to step up and fill this leadership void.”
She approached Psaros with her plan to create a center for unbiased expertise in financial markets and policy, and he provided the seed capital to make it possible.
“He really believed in Georgetown’s strength in finance, strength in policy, and location in Washington, D.C.,” Aggarwal says. “So all the pieces came together for us, and nobody was in a better position than Georgetown to play a responsible role.”
Psaros was thrilled to be part of the center’s creation.
“I was unbelievably excited by the opportunity to partner with my mentor,” he says. “Over the past decade, the center has exceeded the most ambitious expectations of its many supporters.” “The Psaros Center for Financial Markets and Policy will play a role in making sure that the financial sector is working effectively so that the global society can benefit from innovation, job creation, and economic growth.”
Meeting the challenges of a globalized world
Just as the center began at an inflection point, now it will evolve at a time of disruption. “There’s a real transformation happening in the financial center and regulation plays a critical role,” Aggarwal says. “There is so much activity coming out of our regulatory agencies right now. I’ve never seen anything like that—even after the 2008 crisis.”
Climate concerns, human capital issues, and rapid innovation in financial technology—including digital assets—all need to be considered and addressed by policy, Aggarwal notes, and the decisions made in the regulatory space matter for everyone.
“The financial sector is extremely important for the global society,” she says. “The Psaros Center for Financial Markets and Policy will play a role in making sure that the financial sector is working effectively so that the global society can benefit from innovation, job creation, and economic growth.” In this highly complex environment, Psaros’ $11 million commitment will make a world of difference.
“Mike’s gift is going to be transformational in taking us to a whole new level,” Aggarwal says. “There are tons of issues that need to be tackled, which means the center needs to invest a lot more in people, providing expertise and research that will be helpful for both market practices and also policymaking.” The gift will make major investments in student programming, including:
opportunities for student fellows and research assistants to work on original research with distinguished fellows and faculty;
curricular innovation to address cutting-edge issues in finance such as financial technology and environmental, social, and governance issues; and
extracurricular clubs, supported by an associate director for student engagement and a student council of all finance-related clubs that will link undergraduate and graduate students across schools.
The Psaros Center for Financial Markets and Policy has already established an inaugural board of globally recognized leaders who will contribute extensive experience in business markets and policy.
“With this gift,” says Paul Almeida, dean and William R. Berkley Chair at Georgetown McDonough, “we will be on the path to be one of the best centers for financial markets related to policy in the world. We are grateful to the Psaros family for this transformational gift to achieve even more.”
“In many respects, the celebration of this gift belongs to my mom.”
Formalizing an intergenerational commitment
Psaros feels deeply connected to the center, not just for his own sake, but also on behalf of his parents and his children.
“This was a family decision,” Psaros says. “I am deeply grateful to my wife, Robin. We’ve been married for almost 30 years, and we’ve been partners in all of our philanthropic endeavors. I’m grateful to my daughters and son for their enthusiastic support for our investment in the center. My mom, Mary Ann, was a proud public school teacher for 37 years, so you can imagine how she feels about us giving back to education.
Psaros’ son Leo (B’21) encouraged Psaros to tie the future of his family and Georgetown together with the named center.
“This isn’t just about making a gift,” Psaros says. “We are making a lifelong commitment in the center, not only financially, but also of my time. And my son is excited to be involved as well. The only thing that you really have in life is your name and your reputation. We are putting our family’s name and reputation on the center. And therefore we now have an intergenerational obligation to help the center manifest and achieve its true potential.”
Supporting people for others
Psaros has a long history of generosity to Georgetown. He and Robin previously made a $3 million gift to create the Michael and Robin Psaros Endowed Chair in Business Administration at Georgetown McDonough in 2013. Most recently, he made a $3.1 million gift to establish the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Endowed Orthodox Chaplaincy at Georgetown, the first fully endowed chaplain’s position in the university’s Campus Ministry program. This gift complemented the $250,000 gift that Psaros made in 2019 to support the renovation of Copley Crypt, including the funding of icons and iconostasis.
“Mike brings an extraordinary passion to everything that he does, especially his service to Georgetown,” DeGioia says. “He has a vision for the work that we can accomplish and he helps us to bring that vision to life.”
In addition to his philanthropy, Psaros is a dedicated leader for the university and for Georgetown McDonough. He has been honored by the Georgetown University Wall Street Alliance and was presented with the Georgetown McDonough Dean’s Medal.
“Mike is such a positive force for faculty, for deans, and for staff leadership,” Dean Almeida says. “He not only asks ‘how can I help you?’ He does help you. It’s not just words, it’s action. It makes such a difference to know that you have someone like Mike who will always be open about his support for you.”
Psaros and Almeida agree that the best way to change the world is to empower students to become principled leaders and problem-solvers working for the greater good. “I am who I am today because of the values and value system that I learned from my family, the Holy Orthodox Church, and Georgetown University,” Psaros says. “Every time my wife, my family, and I contribute to Georgetown in any way, it is a celebration of those values. Our work begins today to build a better world.”
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